Growing up in Nigeria, Tolu Olumide now known as her stage name TolumiDE, was born for music. She was a member of a number of choirs and cultural dance groups at her primary school, University of Lagos Staff School and secondary school, Atlantic Hall. Deciding to pursue Graphic Arts instead of the occupation of her father, an architect and engineer, she journeyed to Toronto and enrolled in York University’s Fine Art Program. “My faculty was filled with art, music, dance, film, television and multimedia specialties, all of which I had always wanted to explore,” shares the songstress. Immersed in the arts fully, she became part of an all-female Reggae band called “Women Ah Run Tings.” The group, producing a collage of music with Dancehall, Roots, R&B, Rock and Hip-Hop influences, caught the attention of many and ultimately became four-time Canadian Reggae Award Nominees. Not only did the group open up for artists like Burning Spear and Beenie Man, their videos debuted on Much Music, Canada’s #1 Music Video Channel. In the group, Tolu was known as “Tini” and she gained an extensive opportunity to hone her songwriting and singing skills, as she soon became the ensemble’s lead soul vocalist.
Simultaneously while pursuing her music career, she obtained her Bachelors of Fine Arts Honors Degree in Visual Arts Communication Design from York University in Toronto, Canada. While in school, her mother passed away after several cancer treatments in Baltimore, Maryland. TolumiDE continued her studies and upon graduation she sought employment in Baltimore to be with her immediate family and soon enough secured a position as a Graphic Artist for Baltimore’s FOX and Warner Bros affiliate Television Station and began to design motion, still graphics, on-air promotions, marketing and public affairs projects. Shortly after being settled in her design career, TolumiDE joined the nonprofit group, Nigerian Youth Association (NYA), currently known as Afropolitan Youth (AYA), and became part of the team to establish FestAfricaUSA, formerly known as Naija Fest – an African Festival that celebrates and showcases African culture. The artist never strayed too far from creative arts activities, she began to attend open mics and singing engagements within Maryland and Washington, D.C. to fuel her first love for music. She received an invite from Harrison Nwozo C.E.O of Tribe X Entertainment to feature on the Green October Project: Volume I. and with the introduction of Big Lu – a DC based producer – TolumiDE released ‘Because You Know’ as the feature track for the project. The single gained much recognition within the African Entertainment industry and earned her the award for Best Female R&B Artist at the 2006 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In 2007, TolumiDE released the EP titled ‘Specialty’ with six tracks including the hit single ‘Because You Know’.
Today she’s been recognized for her contribution to the Nigerian Music Industry with numerous awards and media features. Excited about her brand and future, she is determined to continue making her mark in the African music and cultural media worldwide.
By Fall 2009 – Spring 2010, TolumiDE was in the studio working on a debut album project with producers and musicians – Blaise Tangelo, Terry Poindexter, John Bashengezi, Ngouma Lokito, Erik Dennis, Mark Baker, Alan Gaffere, The Ogunfiditimi Brothers. The full-length project, My Love, was released May 2010, as an Urban RnB/Soul project with elements of World (Afro-Pop), Gospel, Jazz and Reggae. Throughout the twelve tracks, all penned by the artist herself, TolumiDE bares her musical soul and takes the listener on an emotive and telling journey of her life and her love.
The accompanying video, for the title track ‘My Love’ directed by Tayo Abereoje from Black Royal Pictures received rotation on MTV Base, Channel O (South Africa), Trace TV (Europe), Gospel Music Channel (USA), MBOA TV, Nigezie and ONE Gospel TV and many online outlets. The video earned numerous award recognitions including Channel O Music Video Awards (South Africa) Most Gifted R&B nomination, Artscape SOUND-OFF Competition Winner, MOAMA – Africa Music Video Awards Nomination for Best Diaspora Song and WAMA (Washington Area Musicians) Nominee for Gospel/Inspirational Vocalist & Recording. The Album packaged as an enhanced CD with bonus screen savers and karaoke instrumentals also received a nomination at the Covenant Awards from the Gospel Music Association Canada in the Urban/R&B/Soul Album of the year.
With national success of her releases, Specialty and My Love, for Valentine’s Day 2012, BET International 106 & Park exclusively premiered the ‘For Me’ music video, which was the lead single from forthcoming release. TolumiDE’s follow up single & music video release “More Than You’ll Ever Know” featured award-winning Ghanaian Hip Hop artist, D-Black Da Ghana Bwouy. A sultry love song declaring true love ‘Me Do Wo’, in the midst of common challenges couples face every day.
Unveiled in TolumiDE follow up album “Mama Sunshine”, a well rounded cultural experience as TolumiDE sings in English and native language Yoruba, explores acoustic instruments and collaborates with major African talents -Toby Foyeh (Nigeria), who co-wrote Mama Sunshine and Ikoyi Ikeja and Jaja Basheghezi (Congo) who worked with TolumiDE to Producer the music. Listeners journey through themes of encouragement, self-assurance, survival, nostalgia and love in an extended acoustic version of Your Arms produced with Grammy nominated James McKinney. Your Arms (Fun Mi Layo), the album’s first single, is continuing to make waves on various playlists and was followed up with a music video for an Afro-soul dance version of the song set in Nassau, Bahamas directed by Lavado Stubbs provides the perfect backdrop to display happy love and the alluring lyrics of the hook “Fun Mi Layo,” which translates to “You give me joy.” TolumiDE says “the songs featured share hopes and realities of living as a woman and an African in diaspora”. “Mama Sunshine” serves as an appetizer placed in an intimate setting to get taste buds ready for the main course to come in next studio album “Suya Soul”.
Dedicated to community enhancement and youth development, TolumiDE serves as a board member of the non-profit group Afropolitan Youth Association (AfropolitanYouth.org) and an Entertainment Director for FestAfrica (FestAfricaUSA.com), the largest African Festival in Maryland. She was tasked with creating a diverse multi-cultural experience and a place of new discovery, fun memories and great contribution to the quality of life. As a voting member of the Recording Academy (The Grammys), she participates with numerous Washington, D.C. chapter activities.
TolumiDE’s Performance repertoire continues to soar locally and internationally as a solo act with her band of musicians at a number of events hosted by Non-profits, Educational Institutes, Government Agencies and Embassies, Festivals, Conferences, Church, Jazz Lounges and Private events. She is ever ready to share her message of love and culture and ever present as she expands on the fusion of Urban Contemporary R&B/Soul, Gospel Jazz and African music.
“I’ve always loved to sing, dance, and entertain. It all stared at a really young age during my times living in Nigeria as a teen and in Toronto during undergrad studies ever more now as i create and share experiences, reflections and influences in my music. I have been blessed to independently create albums – Specialty, My Love, Mama Sunshine and receive awards, nominations, national recognition and international performance experience. My hope is to invigorate soul music with a fresh ethnic sound that enlightens listeners about contemporary African culture and brings sentimental grooves to old and youthful audiences.” – TolumiDE